Wifey Wednesday: Is Porn Cheating?

wifey wednesday

 

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up! Today I’m going to deal with a question I get a lot: Is Porn Cheating?

Is Porn Cheating? A look at why it is--and what we should do about it.One of the most common problems that I hear about from women is that their husbands use porn. Men start turning to porn, and then they stop turning to their wives. It’s really so, so sad, because so many men are trapped in it. I get so many emails just like this one:

My husband watches porn and I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve told him I don’t like it but I caught him again. What do I do?

Now porn users aren’t necessarily male. About 30% of porn users are now female, so let’s not assume it’s always the guy. Nevertheless, it is a problem that many males battle.  But regardless of the gender of the user, how serious a problem is porn?

Well, Jesus said in Matthew 5:28:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Now some blogs, primarily in the “manosphere” (the blogs that talk to men about how marriage law and society is tilted towards women and away from men) have given me grief because I’ve come out so hard against pornography, but haven’t seemed to take a similar stand against romance novels. And besides, porn isn’t necessarily cheating, they say. Men aren’t necessarily lusting after those women; they’re merely using porn to get excited, in the same way that women use romance novels to get excited. But using something else to get excited, instead of your partner, is lust. You are using something other than your spouse for sexual gratification and arousal. And that is wrong.

And let’s be perfectly blunt and a little bit gross: porn and masturbation go hand in hand, if you’ll excuse the pun. Rarely do you have one without the other.

Can romance novels inspire lust and fantasy? Yes, but they don’t necessarily do it. Romance novels can fuel dissatisfaction with one’s spouse, but they don’t always. Porn, on the other hand, was created primarily to arouse, and that is what it does, so much so that porn users often come to the point that they require porn to get aroused. So while romance novels CAN be bad, by setting up unrealistic romantic fantasies, porn ALWAYS is. Do you see the difference? Watching porn is lust. It distorts our sexuality, making sex about merely the physical, and not the relational and spiritual connection. It makes it harder to become aroused by a person. To compare Jane Austen to Hustler magazine is ridiculous. My 11-year-old read Jane Austen’s books. But I’d never let her touch Hustler. With romance novels, some of us may take them too far, but many will not. With porn, the intention is that it be taken that way.

But is porn cheating?

When I asked my my Facebook fans “is watching porn cheating?” the overwhelming response was “yes”. So here’s the thing for men to understand: to women, watching porn is cheating, even if you say the porn has nothing to do with your wife.

But I’m not sure the answer is as clear-cut as this, because there are really two aspects to the question: the spiritual and the practical. Spiritually, Jesus said it was the same. But the practical question is really the more important one: adultery is grounds for divorce. Is porn grounds for divorce? Jesus also said, in that same passage, that whoever hates his brother is guilty of murder. Yet we don’t lock up people for bearing a grudge. So I think we have to tread carefully.

I do believe pornography is a sin. It’s a sin against one’s own body, it’s a sin against God, and it’s a sin against one’s spouse. It wrecks the sexual relationship, and wrecks one’s spiritual intimacy both with God and one’s spouse. It is bad in every way.

But that does not mean that the marriage cannot be redeemed, and nor does it necessarily mean that the spouse (normally the wife, but it could go the other way) has grounds for divorce. I have known many women whose husbands have cheated on them with actual women, and I think to compare a guy who occaisonally looks at porn to that is unfair. The hurt is far greater.

However, I have known other women who are married to compulsive masturbators who use porn everyday, and occasionally even when children are running around. In many ways this is worse than a one night stand.

Thus, it’s hard to make a definitive rule. It depends on the situation, and because God hates divorce, and because divorce is so devastating for all involved, I would err on the side of patience and grace for as long as is possible. So with that in mind, let’s look at what to do if your husband watches porn (and I’ll talk about it in those terms now since it is primarily women who read this blog.)

1. Confront Your Husband

If you suspect he’s using porn, often because he has no sexual interest in you, ask him point blank. If he says no, ask him to see his computer and his phone. If he refuses, you likely have a problem.

Have a serious talk with him and tell him that you will not put up with this. This is endangering the marriage, is sinning against you, against him, and against God, and endangers the children. It must stop.

2. Install Filters

Install filters on your computer that eliminate porn, or that send emails so you can see what he’s watching on the computer. Some men actually are relieved to be discovered, and find this freeing, because most men who use porn don’t actually want to. It’s become a compulsion.

You can also install an accountability program like Covenant Eyes, which will send an email to an accountability partner of your choice whenever you access a site you shouldn’t. It’s a great deterrent! Find out more here. And use the code TLHV to get your first month free!

If he refuses, then you really need some more help. Talk to a mentor at church, or your pastor, and get some outside counsel as to what to do.

3. Ask Your Pastor for an Accountability Partner

Ask your husband to request an accountability partner at church–another man that he can talk to. You should not be his accountability partner, because he can’t be honest with you if he slips up. You’ll be very upset. He needs someone with distance whom he can confess his struggles to without dealing with fallout in the relationship.

4. Rebuild Your Sex Life

You can’t compete by buying lingerie, or by being extra kinky, because the problem is not with you. It’s that he’s become aroused by outside images. So rebuild your sex life slowly, helping him to learn to be present in the moment and to be aroused just by both of you making love again. That can take some time, and let him be free to stop in the middle of things if he finds his mind wandering and returning to images. You want him to be able to be honest.

And if he won’t stop using porn, do not feed the habit by agreeing to act out what he sees, or by making love right after he’s used porn. In that case, you’ve become a sex toy, and not a wife. Be available and open to him, but only when the sex reflects real love and a relationship, not when it’s fed by something else.

5. When Can You Separate?

I would view porn as somewhere on the continuum between alcoholism and adultery. Porn can become an addiction, and when it is a compulsion that is hard to break, there is often little you can do about it. But someone who is addicted to alcohol and drinks everyday is in a different category than someone who binge drinks occasionally. Both are bad, but one will destroy your life; the other is wrong, but not deadly to a marriage. So while any porn use is wrong, I don’t believe it is necessarily grounds for leaving the marriage. In fact, in most cases I would say that it is not.

Nevertheless, if he refuses to address the problem, and you know that he is a compulsive porn user, there may come a time when you have little choice but to separate. I would see this in a similar way to someone who is married to an alcoholic who refuses to change. When the alcoholism starts to endanger your finances, his work, your marriage, and the kids, you need to get out. Similarly, if he is watching porn all the time, and it’s endangering his marriage, his kids, and other aspects of his life, then it may be necessary to do something drastic. I wouldn’t do this if he wants to change, and is struggling, or if the porn use is only occasional. Separation is only for the destructive, compulsive porn user. When the porn use has become a porn addiction, you’ve got a serious problem.

And in this case, I would start with a separation, not a divorce. Divorce is really only a last resort, because even if you are justified, your children will be hurt by it, and the far better outcome is reconciliation. Nevertheless, as James Dobson says in his book Love Must be Tough, sometimes the only route to a healthy marriage is to have the offending spouse feel the consequences of his actions. So this must be a last resort, taken only when you have asked a mentor for good counsel, and only after a lot of prayer. This isn’t something you do the night that you discover he’s been using porn.

I hope it never comes to that in your marriage. I hope that, instead, you can rebuild your marriage slowly by focusing on building a friendship, on cementing the goodwill, so that you can deal wtih these difficult issues. Spend time together just laughing and having fun. Do things together. And then, as he tries to stop, and as you try to forgive and move forward, it’s much easier.

I know this is such a heartbreaking issue for so many women. They’re desperate for their husbands to stop using porn, and nothing seems to be getting better. They’re lonely, they’re angry, they’re rejected, they’re hurt. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I pray that your husband will be able to see porn for the evil that it is, and that he will turn back to you. But just know, as you’re going through this difficult time, that most men who are involved in porn really don’t do so because their wives lack something. It truly isn’t a reflection on you; it’s just a temptation that men are especially prone to. Keep that in mind, and try to maintain an emotional distance, as much as you can, from the anger you’re bound to feel. God can change your husband, He can bring healing, and He can help you forgive. Walk down that road, and don’t give in to anger.

UPDATE: I changed the wording a little because I thought of a better way to say something, but the jist is the same! And here’s the follow up post, including a long comment from a man who has found healing!



Comments

  1. It’s so good to read a balanced and fair post on this topic! Thank you!
    Kathy recently posted…Happy (Belated) New Year!My Profile

  2. This is a tough topic, Sheila, but I think you handled it very well. I have heard that most men, even Christians, have viewed porn. It is so easily available in this day and age. It is their battle but we must remember that some of us women have ugly battles also…nagging, manipulating, controlling, etc. We need to remember to take the log out of our own eye also and not judge too harshly or act superior while trying to help him.
    Lori recently posted…She Loved Her SonMy Profile

    • Exactly, Lori. We all have our own battles. I think the reason that porn differs perhaps from some of those battles is because of its association with adultery. Jesus did say that lust was adultery, and so someone who is deliberately seeking out porn repeatedly probably does fall into that category, and that’s why the divorce issue comes up. But we must tread very, very carefully.

      • I think we need to make the distinction that Jesus said that lusting was committing adultery “in the heart”. That is different than fornication, physical sex between two people, which Jesus does allow divorce for. All men have probably “lusted” after a woman before but I do think it is different than actually fornication. Just my opinion!
        Lori recently posted…She Loved Her SonMy Profile

      • marnita davis says:

        how do you repair your marriage if you feel disgusted toward your husband. I dont even want him to touch me and the thought of sex with him is nothing I want to do now. I dont want to go to hell for divorcing him if God dont approve of the terms. Im so confused.

    • It’s easy for you to say this and yes, true we to have our own things to battle. However, you clearly do not struggle with a man who views porn. It is not easy and it makes a woman feel inadequate and not good enough.

  3. Great post, Sheila! I’m glad that you clarified your position on porn use and divorce. I fully agree with you that use of porn is a sin, and it has serious consequences for marriage, and if it’s being used in such a way as to endanger the children, then a separation–that may end, as a last resort, in divorce if the user still refuses to change–may be in order. But for most women who find out that their husband is using porn, the fact that they were able to find out (rather than always knowing from having it flaunted) means that it’s being hidden from the children as well. In that case, the harm being done to the children is because of the harm to the marriage, so separation and divorce would harm the children more than the porn use–although as children get older, they will find out all sorts of secrets, and the harm may come to them then. I’m rambling, so I’ll just go back to my first statement: Great post, Sheila!
    Deborah recently posted…Frustration and SuccessMy Profile

    • Thanks, Deborah! I do know of compulsive porn users who are literally on their computers 3-4 hours every night, and their poor wives don’t know what to do. That is a very different case from some guy who is trying to fight the temptation, but who falls every now and then. To Jesus they are both sins, but to divorce is a huge thing, and very destructive. It really should only be for the most extreme cases.

  4. I have a husband who is truly addicted to porn and is on it hours at time every day. And yet, he is always admiring of my body and clearly says how much he wants me. It has created such anger in me and both of our boys in their mid teens have caught their dad watching it. I feel like a bad mother because they know I am aware of it and yet still live with him. He, at times, has asked me to do something he has seen there, and i have shut him down straight away with that. He sits in his garage all day wathcing it, and then comes in for ‘sex’. I am struggling in a huge battle right now with God as to what he wants me to do. When I go out in the garage, my husband tries to close out right away from the internet because he is well aware that I don’t like it. I am looking for guidance right now because I am finding it tough to even say I love my husbany anymore, and this porn is just adding to the demise of my love. It has become a huge struggle for me.

    • Oh, wow, Tammy, that is so tough. That’s exactly the kind of thing I was talking about at the end–the compulsive user who is ignoring his family and then wanting sex. I would say that you really need to seek some outside help, because I don’t know the situation and I can’t tell you exactly what to do. But to me, this is really serious. Visit Focus on the Family’s site pureintimacy.org that can help you walk through it, but I’d also get an in-person mentor you can speak with who can help you walk through this, maybe someone at a church or something like that. And just tell your husband that this isn’t acceptable, and it has to stop. Filters on the computer are likely necessary. Removing the computer from the garage is likely necessary. But you probably need some help to walk through this. I’m so sorry you’re walking through this, but God can heal. He really can.

    • marnita davis says:

      Tammy I just discoverd my husbands addiction and the severity of it. I just want to know if your marriage ever recovered, if there is hope

  5. Sheila, having lived it I think your perspective is fair. However, when you’re in the middle of it – of finding out that your husband’s been addicted for 7 of your 9 married years, your kids are failing at school because of the tension at home, and he comes to you again and says he’s slipped but he’ll try harder next time – forgiveness runs thin. When you go to the church for help and get turned away, when leaders turn a blind eye to what he’s doing but point fingers at you and say divorce isn’t an option – forgiveness runs thin.
    What you most want to hear in that moment is that it’s OK to be angry, it’s not your fault, and it’s not your job to change him.
    Him looking at other women is bad enough – you catch your guy oogling the waitress you smack him but you don’t threaten divorce. What you don’t mention though is (beyond masturbation) what else goes hand in hand with a porn addiction – the hurt of being rejected sexually, never measuring up sexually, the constant lying, the emotional abandonment, the mood swings and unpredictable anger directed at you and your children, how no one will let you talk about it – and you just want out. Professional counselling saved our marriage, and God – because I had quit. I’m not proud of that but it’s the honest truth.
    Lisa Hall-Wilson recently posted…Living With RegretMy Profile

    • Thank you for that thoughtful comment, Lisa. I think you added some balance that women really need to see! You’re right; I didn’t talk about that enough. It’s hard because the post was already over 2000 words! I’ve got a lot more written on porn elsewhere, I had just never addressed the essential question about whether it’s okay to leave or not. I’m so glad that counselling helped you, but that’s amazing that he was even willing to go. I know so many women in the same situation where their husbands wouldn’t even talk about it, and those marriages did end over porn because the guys just wouldn’t stop. It’s so, so sad.

    • thank you for posting how i feel! My husband had confessed to me and i took everyone’s advice to not leave right away but give it time. I have given it over a year and a half and all i can say is that I AM ROTTING! ive forgiven him for what he’s done, but now I have to live with the pain. Im the one who could snap when i go shopping and see fashion magazines. Im the one who sits at home tending to his kids while he goes out and about and has every opportunity to eye up chicks. Im the one who’s body is ruined cause Ive had his kids. Im not even in my 30′s and I feel thrown out with the trash.
      Im not crazy emotional like this and i feel like a psyco! Ive lately gotten snappy with my kids, tense like a piano wire ready to snap.
      I know he loves me and I do believe he feels like crap. Ive hardly shown any anger towards him because I love him and I know he’s sorry. But the anger and grief inside me is eating me up. He says he’s much much stronger now that it’s been brought into the light. I believe him. But he’s only ever white-lied about sexual things – usually I ask the WRONG QUESTION and so he can truthfully answer it with no problem. Like ‘are you watching innappropriate things on youtube.’ he says no cause it wasn’t on youtube.
      I just feel like I am not able to live with the pain he’s caused me. How can I be a good wife when I can’t even help myself. EVERYONE ALWAYS SAYS be a supportive wife, love your husband through this. I DO! But Im DYING. If I stay he’s going to be happy ‘because im here’ but im a fricken empty shell! I feel like for even a chance at this ever working I need to find joy again for myself. It’s almost impossible to do this when he’s in my life because he’s continually struggling not to fall into it again. My heart has been through so so much. Much more than just this with him. This was like the last fatal blow to my stomach when I was already laying on the ground dying.

      • Hilary Holden says:

        I think the majority of all the post I have read here concentrate on helping the husband or boyfriend. I think the women who find themselves in the truly terrible situation need as much help and support. I too am one of these women and there is not much said about the crushing and devastating effect this has on a marriage and above all trust which is the foundation of all marriages. How can you love someone you cannot trust.

        I am glad you have expressed your feelings here what hell you are going through. I know what you mean. I looked in the mirror today and thought what a mess I look. I would like to go to the hairdresser but have very little money. I think of all the naked women he has looked at and feel I want to curl up and hide, it crushes your self esteem and confidence,. Where is the advise and help women need to cope with this on a daily basis. My husband told me after we had been married for seven years he had been addicted to porn from about year three of our marriage, It nearly finished me. I then re built things with him he kept away from the porn and now three weeks ago went on it again he said he didnt give a shit about me so he did it. Do all you can for yourself, block all porn sites on your computer get emails sent to you telling what sites he has been on. You cannot be supportive to a adulterer that’s what he is. You can pray for him but can you trust him not to tear your heart to pieces. Keep an emotional distance shield yourself it’s all about self preservation whilst you heal. He is not the important one YOU ARE. God bless you I wish all good things for the future for you and your kids.

        • It makes me so sad to see how many women are hurting because of this. If your husband is turned on by images of women who are skinny with huge breasts and you dont look like that at all, then it just makes you feel like trash. For years I thought I had to compete with these Pornstars and it has left me feeling worthless,ugly and emty and it has totally destroyed my view of sex. I am disgusted by it because it has become something so evil. Just the thought of it makes me feel dirty and used because most men only know how to consume women and use them for their own pleasure. My husband used to watch porn before we were married (we had sex before marriage, we stopped when I gave my life to the Lord, he is a christian but never walked with God until Jesus saved me), I dont think he does now, he has really tried to get away from it but I cant stop feeling resentment for him and his behaviour. I cant just think differently about sex all of a sudden and just “do it” anyway when the thought of him touching me makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry.

  6. The difference between my bodice rippers (romance novels) and porn is great in my world. When I read about great romance I tend to find parallels in my marriage and tends to make me want to find my husband because of the reminders of the romance in my life. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in porn that reminds anyone about me. LOL

    • van Rooinek says:

      The difference between my bodice rippers (romance novels) and porn is great in my world

      Many men regard them as identical. Many MRAs attribute the wave of unjustified divorces, to the unrealistic romantic expectations created by such novels. Whether you agree with it or not, that’s how MEN often see the matter.

      It’s the height of hypocrisy to say, “we, as women, consider porn in the same category as adultery, and men must accept this”, and yet, dismiss men when they say the same thing of romance novels. Neither constitutes actual physical adultery, but both create feelings of betrayal in the opposite sex. You ask men to respect your feelings, you need to be prepared to respect theirs.

      I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in porn that reminds anyone about me. LOL

      Don’t be so sure. Part of why porn lost its charm for me (aside from its sinfulness) is precisely because, I don’t want to see other women doing those things — I want my WIFE to do those things. I can’t think about sex without thinking about her.

      • van Rooinek says:

        PS

        I don’t want to see other women doing those things — I want my WIFE to do those things.

        And, I should add, she does.

        I can’t think about sex without thinking about her.

        This may be due to the fact that I never went all the way til our wedding night. If I’d been promiscious, it might be different. But as it is, my mental sexual fantasy database is filled with hot things I did with HER. Guys who’ve had a lot of women might have a very different mental sexual map.

        • That’s awesome! And it’s the same in my marriage, too. I am so grateful that my husband and I both waited until our wedding night–even if that wedding night was less than stellar. :)

    • I agree with Van Rooinek. Women are threatened by porn because we know how much our husbands desire physical stuff, and we can’t compete with photo-shopped pictures and edited videos. Men on the other hand are threatened by romance novels because they know their wives desire the emotional/relationship stuff, and there is no way even the most romantic guy can compete with a romance novel (which is probably written by a woman who knows exactly how women think). I believe Sheila has said before that reality can never compete with fantasy.

  7. I’m so blessed to be married to a man who does not have a porn addiction. I lived in a house hold that did. My dad was addicted to porn and it was horrible. He would look at it when my younger sister and I were in the living room where the computer was! I found out that he was looking at it from my younger sister who was 9 at the time. It angered us so much and we never told our mom, we didn’t know if she knew or if she just chose to not know. It wreaks so much havoc on a family. It’s caused so many issues, many my little sister has refused to deal with, but that’s another story. Anyway, I just wanted to comment I know how this can affect the wife but what it does to a family is horrific. Thanks for the post, great as always!

  8. van Rooinek says:

    most men who are involved in porn really don’t do so because their wives lack something

    I question this. I suspect there are 2 different types of porn users — the true addict, which you describe, and whose activity has little to do with his mate — and the other sort, a much larger group I suspect, for whom the strength of the porn temptation is inversely correlated to how well his wife takes care of him.

    In other words…. if you’re reasonably fit and sexually available, then your husband’s porn use is likely an true addiction, or a simple absence of ethics. It really isn’t about you.

    But if you’ve let yourself go, and/or you only have sex once a month, you must consider the possibility that you have placed a stumbling block in front of him. It was wrong of him to fall, to be sure, but you might have helped him fall.

    1st Cor 7 plainly states that marital relations are a defense, at least a partial one, against sexual temptation. So HONESTLY ask yourself the question — did I in some way contribute to this? Maybe you did. And, maybe you truly didn’t. But ask the question.

    • I agree with this completely–many women can place stumbling blocks up for men. I don’t think women realize how much a true physical need sex is for men. Nevertheless, even if you caused the stumbling block, you are still not to blame if he sins (and I know you weren’t insinuating that; I’m just stating it).

      • van Rooinek says:

        /Nevertheless, even if you caused the stumbling block, you are still not to blame if he sins (and I know you weren’t insinuating that;

        Yes, I WAS insinuating that. If you set up a stumbling block, you are partly guilty for the other person’s fall. That’s solidly scriptural.

        I don’t want to guilt trip truly innocent wives who are just victims of the porn epidemic, but… not all are innocent. And my gut feeling is that those who howl the loudest about porn, are sometimes trying to drown out their own guilt.

        • The scriptural reference you’d use to support what you’re saying would be from Luke 17:2: It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So in that sense God does look at us when we tempt others to stumble. But elsewhere in Scripture the theme is always to take responsibility for doing the right thing even when it’s difficult (remember the Israelites who were struck dead for touching the ark, even though they were only trying to save it?). When you contravene God’s law, even if it’s extremely difficult to keep God’s law, he still holds you responsible. I think that’s what I’m trying to say: God still holds the husband responsible for sinning. He does not place that blame on the wife.

          I also believe that the number of men looking at porn because they are sex-starved is actually quite low. When you look at surveys of Christian men who look at porn, for instance, you’ll find that most start before the wedding. They don’t start after. It’s a habit that has formed, and it’s a temptation that began long ago, and they haven’t stopped it. While some men may turn to porn out of frustration, most turn to it because it is a genuine temptation. And in my own survey that I took for my book, there was no correlation between the number of times a couple made love and the chance that a husband was involved in porn. In most cases it’s something separate from the couple’s sexual life (and that’s what most men say: “it has nothing to do with you”).

          So yes, a wife may cause her husband to stumble. But please don’t assume this is always, or even usually, the case.

          • van Rooinek says:

            So yes, a wife may cause her husband to stumble. But please don’t assume this is always, or even usually, the case.

            Sorry, but based on the legions of men who’ve told me that their sex lives ground to a halt after a few years of marriage, I MUST retain this assumption.

          • Here are the actual stats, just for your information: For men who make love 3-4 times a week: 62% have/do use porn; For people who make love 1-2 times a week, 68%; For people who make love less than once a week: 64%; and for those who make love rarely or never: 69%. So it’s very slightly higher if men rarely make love, but not substantially. However, I absolutely do agree with you that for many guys, sex shuts down after they’re married. I wasn’t planning on releasing these stats too much before the book release, but about 40% of marriages make love less than once a week. I think that’s totally unacceptable and really is the wife withholding, in many cases. If you were to look only at the marriages where the husband has the lower sex drive (because in marriages where the wife has the higher sex drive, the lower frequency of sex may be his problem), the percentages don’t change much. So that’s a huge issue. You’re absolutely right.

            I’m just saying that most porn use doesn’t look like it’s attributed to that, because the percentages aren’t radically different. But the low frequency of making love is definitely something which needs to be addressed in the church (and I’ll be addressing it a ton in February!) because it’s a huge problem. It’s just not as correlated to porn as people may think, that’s all.

          • Sheila,

            I enjoy reading this blog to see what women are thinking…. Now if I could get my wife to read it. I don’t think I would consider myself addicted to porn but with 2 kids and another one on the way I don’t want to bother my wife if she doesn’t feel like being intimate when I bring up the idea of sex.

            Even before my wife got pregnant this time, she could go over a week or two without wanting sex. I don’t think she considers it “withholding” though.

            On occasion I have also porn to help prolong the next sexual experience for my wife. I am sure many guys also do this.

          • van Rooinek, I think I need to apologize to you, too. I’m afraid I sounded snarky to you as well. That really wasn’t my intention. It’s just been that kind of day! You’ve raised some interesting points, and I’m actually just clarifying a lot of my views in responding to you, so I appreciate the chance to do so, and I appreciate your perspective. Again, I do believe you’re right that withholding is a huge issue, and it’s one that I promise I’ll address a lot in the upcoming weeks!

          • I also want to say in regards to the Luke verse that this was referring specifically to children–to those who were more spiritually immature than you are. So I’m not sure that it can be used to say that if we tempt someone, we are complicit in their sin, or we caused it, especially if we are on equal footing.

          • van Rooinek says:

            So it’s okay to tempt an adult to sin, but not a child? Let’s look at the verse before it:

            Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. Luke 17:1 NIV

          • No, I don’t think it’s right. All I’m saying is that you can’t lay the sin solely at the woman’s feet. And again, as I said, this would be the minority of cases anyway. I just don’t want the women reading this blog to feel like if their husbands are using porn it’s their fault and God is mad at them. I do believe that some women are guilty of withholding sex, which is, in and of itself, a sin, even if their husbands aren’t led into using porn. But the men are still also morally culpable for choosing to use porn, even if the woman plays a role by withholding. I also do think that in the references in Scripture to being careful about causing someone to sin, they are mostly talking about people who are more spiritually immature. The Luke 17 passage is in the context of Jesus talking to children (as we see in Matthew and Mark). Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 8:9, Paul writes “take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”

            The common thread is that we are not to cause a weaker person to stumble, or it will come back on our own heads. That doesn’t mean that we should rush out to cause ANYONE to stumble, either stronger or weaker, but when it comes to stumbling, the Bible seems to be primarily concerned with those who are weaker. For many of us that would still include our husbands; but I’m just trying to say that to lay the moral blame for a husband’s porn use at a woman’s feet is not warranted if she hasn’t been withholding sex; and if she has been, he is still morally responsible. She may bear some guilt, but most of it is his.

  9. You gave very good treatment to this subject, Sheila. I definitely think we must look at the persistence of a problem, the attitude of the offender toward it, and what effects it has on the marriage.

    I would like to pipe in on the romance novels vs. pornography statement. As a writer, I can tell you that the romance genre runs the gamut – from Christian romance novels to hard-core erotica. Which is a bit like the continuum of a man noticing a pretty woman to ogling pornographic images. I simply think the better comparison is pornography for men and erotica for women, since both of these are about getting aroused elsewhere.

  10. This is a great post, Sheila. I’d disagree on one point — romance novels. I wouldn’t put Jane Austin in with romance novels, nor would I put “Love comes softy” in the category with romance novels. They are a different genre, completely.

    Years ago, at work,during a break, I picked up a novel that had been left there and read it. Whoa-doggy — that was a bad thing to do. It was one of those books with a muscly body holding a well endowed woman who is swooning in his arms. Now, yes, I’ve seen some porn, and I know that the images conjured in my mind by that novel and the images given to me by porn are, really, quite the same. Women might not be drawn to the images, but I, for one, am drawn to the words.

    Perhaps I’m over-generalizing from one novel that I read, but that novel was merely porn for women.

    I’m excited about your “29 days to great sex” and I’m looking forward to the release of your book. I’m saving my play money so I can get it when its released!
    Rachael recently posted…Celebrating the everydayMy Profile

    • Rachael, like I replied to Terry, too, I think you’re right in that I didn’t define the terms. Jane Austen is called a “romance writer”. So is Janette Oke. And I guess when I hear “romance novels”, I think of those that I read. But you’re right; there is a whole other category that is better called soft porn, and that does cross a line. I would argue, though, that even some “soft” romance novels that aren’t sexually graphic can also cross a line if they promote a view of romance which causes dissatisfaction in one’s spouse (like the Twilight series, for instance). It’s not soft porn, but it’s not helpful, either. I guess those are the books I was talking about in this post because I’m too far removed from the others now, but you’re right, I should have made that clarification better.

    • Disagree with this. Jane Austen novels and the “Love Comes Softly” series are just as deleterious, in my view. Austen is a favorite of many writers, who set up the famous Mr. Darcy as the husbandly ideal — rich, well off, cultured, dashing, and romantic to a fault.

      Oke’s novels and the films on which they are based are mostly innocuous. But they also set out a romanticized, fictitious ideal of the secondary husband who is always kind, caring, soft, reverent, sensitive, with just a touch of rugged good looks and brawny character — enough, but not too much to be independent, free-thinking or threatening. The men in the “Love Comes Softly” series are secondary characters. The men exist solely as plot devices and as catalysts for the women to achieve what they want, which might or might not involve their husbands or marriage.

      IOW, the men of these novels are completely and totally unattainable, because they don’t exist. Though the male characters are secondary, supporting characters in the sweeping drama of the protagonists’ lives, they are depicted as perfect specimens of manhood, created by their female authors, to serve the women’s interests. They are pure fantasy. They create unrealistic expectations of courtship, male-female relationships, romance, marriage and sex.

      Moreover, they very well might cause women to look over at their less-than-stellar husbands and say “why can’t YOU be more like HIM!”

      • So, just out of curiosity, is it okay to read any novels or watch any movies? Because you’re basically saying that all stories are wrong, unless those stories depict bad characters. And considering that the Bible is book of stories, I really have a hard time with people saying that stories are bad. I addressed this at length in another post, but I don’t think that you can make a statement like that without also saying that men should not be watching any TV or movies at all because they might see women that are pretty. I think that you can draw a line between what is soft porn in novels (like Nora Roberts, for example) that would coincide with men watching pornography; and then other fiction works which one cannot be legalistic about. I’d say anything that one reads to cause arousal is taking sexual attention away from your spouse; but to say that novels are wrong in general is a very broad statement. For some they certainly may lead to dissatisfaction, but certainly not for all. And let’s not forget fiction’s ability to show us truths that we can’t always see another way. Randy Alcorn’s thriller novels, for instance, contain just as many men that are wonderful as some of these romance novels, but I come away from them not saying “I wish my husband was more like that”, but instead “I want to be more like that, because they emulated Jesus so well.” I just think to come down hard on fiction like that means that you’re saying any book, movie, or TV program is bad, and I just don’t think that’s true. I think we all need to be aware of our weaknesses and act accordingly, and if it is causing problems, stop it. But I don’t think you can equate Jane Austen with porn whatsoever, because while porn always is sin, reading novels is not unless you use those novels to stir up dissatisfaction.

        • I’m sorry, but this whole thread sounds like it’s males trying to justify pornography. Look, porn is wrong. Period. Saying, “women are just as bad because they read Jane Austen” is ridiculous. Women should not read soft porn; and men should not watch porn (women shouldn’t watch it, either, I’m just talking about our tendencies). But I really think there’s a thread here that is trying to blame women as much as men. Women have many sins in this area, and I think the chief one would be withholding sex. But whether or not women are sinning does not take away the fact that PORN IS SIN. I think the fact that we have gotten so off base in the conversation is proof that some people are trying to get away from that central tenet.

          • Sheila:

            I notice you deleted one of my comments. I am sorry you felt the need to do so.

            First, I never said that porn is good, that it is justified or that it is not a sin. All I have said is that I think when it comes to SOME women, the so-called “bodice rippers” and romance novel genre serves the same purpose. If it’s bad for men, it’s bad for women too. And I don’t think a distinction can be drawn between the “bodice ripper”, Austen’s novels or the “Love Comes Sotfly” series. That’s a bit like saying the internet videos are bad, but looking at half-clothed models in a lingerie catalog is OK If it provokes lust or sin, it’s bad. Period. If it’s all bad for men, it’s all bad for women.

            Second, I didn’t say no one should ever read any stories or novels, noor watch any TV programs or movies. What I said was that I don’t think there’s a real qualitative difference between Austen’s novels, Oke’s stories and so-called “bodice rippers”. You disagree. That is fine. But please don’t conflate what I ACTUALLY said with a much broader statement that all stories, novels, movies and films are bad. I did not make such a broad, sweeping generalization like that, nor do I beleive that.

            Third, I never said a woman is bad because she reads Austen. It’s not a character flaw. That is not at all what I said. What I intended to convey was this: the attitudes and behaviors that propel SOME women to expect men to live up to that ideal like Mr. Darcy CAN BE deleteriouis to a marriage. It leads to the sin of covetousness and is a breach of the Tenth Commandment. It is analogous to male porn use. This is merely an observation, not a justification.

            I’m interested in sharing ideas from a Christian perspective. I am not here to insult or offend. I want to think critically about these issues and I hope others will too.

          • Deti, I understand your position, and I wrote a much longer post last week about this topic. But I was reacting to this. You said:

            Jane Austen novels and the “Love Comes Softly” series are just as deleterious, in my view.

            So you said they were just as bad. So if that’s true, then there really is nothing that you can read or watch on TV, which is taking it to its logical conclusion, that’s all.

          • Sheila:

            I completely fail to understand how you reached your conclusion from what I said. I disagree with your premise and conclusion, but we can certainly leave it at that.

  11. Okay, I am going to be real honest here and lay all cards on the table because I think romance novels are getting a pass here that they should not get. I used to read them from the time I was 14 years old right up until I was about to be married. And the sex scenes in romance novels do indeed cause physical arousal because they leave little to the imagination and for people who have no problem visualizing what they read (this probably includes most avid readers) it’s as good as visual porn in getting you turned on. Maybe I’m just some odd woman with a stronger libido but I doubt it. The reason I stopped reading them and threw them all out before I got married was because I knew (even as an unbeliever) instinctively that it would not be good for my new marriage. Let’s stop giving this stuff a pass it doesn’t deserve.

    Secondly, I think your post here is more balanced than the position you presented at Dalrock’s Sheila and I appreciate the clarification. While I understand completely the words Jesus used to describe looking upon a woman with lust, and while I can only imagine the betrayal of trust pornography addiction causes, it is still not the same as a man physically lying with another woman and I really don’ think Jesus meant to imply that it was. This was about the state of a man or woman’s heart before God. Before the pervasive infiltration of pornography on the modern consciousness, I doubt that you could find very few women who thought their husband committed adultery simply because in passing he saw a woman that turned him on.

    The difference is that pornography is a deliberate attempt to experience arousal from someone other than your spouse. Romance novels can meet that standard as easily as Internet porn.

    Lastly, thank you for making the distinction between separation (rather than divorce) to repair the breech and justifying a woman preparing to divorce her husband and picking out husband number two as if there is any sin a spouse can commit that justifies the sin of dating someone else while you;re still married.

    I think you did good her overall. I just wanted to put the rest the idea that romance novels pique the emotions only and not the libido. That was not my experience. And I’m certain I’m not alone in that. Most women just won’t admit it.
    terry@breathinggrace recently posted…Someone Said…(On Accumulating Stuff)My Profile

    • Terry, you’re probably right about the romance novels. I guess maybe I just get confused as to what romance novels people are upset about. I’d put Nora Roberts in the category you mentioned, for instance, but there are a ton of Christian novels that are “romance novels” that I let my kids read. On the other hand, I don’t let them read Twilight because I think that’s a dangerous view of romance. So I guess maybe I need to define my terms a little better. That might be another good post, and I think I’ll think on it and write it later, because I do have some things to say aut the Christian romance novel world, too, that I’d like to comment on that I definitely wouldn’t put in the same category as porn, but can still be dangerous for other reasons. Thanks for your comment!

      When I wrote at Dalrock’s, I was really thinking more about the compulsive user who uses porn for hours a day and refuses to stop, which is what Fireproof portrayed. I do think that this can warrant separation, because I do think that the compulsive nature of it can border on adultery. I’d even say it may fall under that category. But most guys who glance at porn, or who are tempted at porn, are not in that group.

    • van Rooinek says:

      Before the pervasive infiltration of pornography on the modern consciousness, I doubt that you could find very few women who thought their husband committed adultery simply because in passing he saw a woman that turned him on.

      Actually there are pornographic images from the ruins of Pompeii and from ancient Egypt. It’s not new.

      The Manosphere ripped you to shreds on this, because they believe that calling porn, adultery, gives women a “get out of marriage free” card. Combine that with the unscriptural tolerance for remarriage in most of our churches — (the “adultery exception” clause may give license to divorce but, contrary to modern teaching, it does NOT give license to remarry while the first spouse lives!) — and you have a situation where a guy who is sexually deprived, breaks down and looks at girls on the internet a few times…. and his wife then feels (incorrectly) that she is justified BEFORE GOD in divorcing him, taking the kids, taking his house and most of his money, and going on a quest for a new man.

  12. I don’t know Sheila, I’m thinking maybe I am just an abnormal woman because I ran across a series of novels in a warehouse club a few years ago. Definitely Christian in theme. No fornication or adultery. There was a lead female character whose husband had left her years earlier and she was raising her kids, nose to the grindstone, serving in the church. She met this guy at church and they hit it off.

    There was a scene where they began kissing, petting, etc and stopped short of committing sexual sin…I guess. It bothered me and I threw the whole series out. Too much heavy breathing and stuff for me. Maybe it’s realistic, but I wondered about the Christian singles already struggling to maintain their purity and how such a “benign” scene may have affected them.

    I really wish I could remember the names of the books because you may have heard of them being a successful Christian writer yourself.

    And this doesn’t even begin to touch the unrealistic expectations most of this stuff plants into the heads of women.

    Understand that I have nothing against fiction. Or against romantic fiction necessarily. I love it in fact. Never met a Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott book that I didn’t like. I just think that some Christian authors, in an attempt to be relevant and hip, cross the line too easily into titillation. Those of us who are married know the score. We know what sex is and what it feels like. No help in terms of fiction writers is needed. Most unmarried people don’t need any help imagining either.

    Thank you for indulging me on my soapbox issue, LOL. You know I admire and respect you and have no desire to pick a fight. You’ve been with me since the days when no one even knew my blog was on the web. I have no qualms about your intentions and motivation. I just want a realistic picture presented to women because we tend to easily forgive ourselves the kinds of indulgences that we quickly condemn men for and I think romantic fantasy can easily fit into a category where we do that.
    terry@breathinggrace recently posted…Someone Said…(On Accumulating Stuff)My Profile

    • Terry, I’ve read a “Christian” book like the one you portray and I thought it was crap. I’m in a bit of a difficult position because I’m not the best one to critique some of these books because of who the publishers are. Maybe I’ll send you the title and you can do it for me!

      I have no problem with books that realistically portray the struggle to keep pure until you’re married. I do have trouble with books that focus on how my skin melts when he’s around, etc. etc. It’s all focused on lust and not really on love, and I think that’s wrong.

      But MOST Christian novels aren’t in that category. Again, I think I’ll write on this tomorrow and flesh it out a little more, because identifying which romance novels are okay to read can be tricky! And I do think Christian novelists need to be called to present things realistically and biblically without being titillating.

    • Not abnormal, women just don’t want to admit it, IMHO. I completely agree about romance novels. Jane Austen writes about the daily lives of women, not really about “romance”. I’ve read a couple romance novels and they are absolutely as arousing as porn. Guys dig pictures, chicks dig words. And, I know women that stay away from anything that even remotely smacks of “romance” (even Francine Rivers) because of their addiction to romance novels. It goes both ways.

  13. Well written. You seem to have a put a lot of effort into being objective, and I think that’s great. I guess I just don’t consider it adultery because it ISN’T the same as having sex with other women. He has not been with another woman and there is not a risk that he will give you HIV from watching porn, but I do think porn, particularly obsessive porn use is damaging to a marriage in many more ways than “just” the bedroom(I say just in quotations because the bedroom is pretty important, actually). I think in some people it can lead to some very sexist, demeaning behaviours.

    This is a really tough subject because it does lead to many other questions, like what about watching television shows on HBO where the lead characters are attractive and there are frequent nude scenes? Or what about fantasizing about other people. I suppose the HBO thing falls into the same category as romance novels.

    Interesting topic anyway.

    • Yes, Rachel, I would say HBO can also be dangerous. My husband and I stopped watching The Tudors and Rome after a few episodes because it was just soft porn. And kind of vile at that. I think we all just need to be careful about what we’re doing and what our motivations are.

  14. Thank you for today’s post. I have been married 30yrs and have been dealing with this issue for the past 20 yrs with my husband. We’ve met with counselors, pastors, elders, etc. and it is still a problem today. I have learned a lot and come to realize that I can’t change my husband. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Porn can get such a hold on a person that it’s impossible to break free without the work and power of Christ. I am trying to figure out how I can remain in my marriage when I know that my husband uses porn and won’t work on this area of his life. He definately knows how it effects me and our relationship. It’s really a hard issue and I believe that it needs to be addressed more in the church today.

  15. Agreeing husband says:

    A friend of mine showed me this article and I could not agree more. I have been a Christian since I was 8 and grew up in a good Christian home but pornography can get to anyone. I am a Christian husband that struggled with pornography. I could have been considered an occasional user. I could go days and even weeks without any issues, but eventually that temptation came back. Let me first say to the wives, this is hurting your husband more than you will ever know, especially if they are trying to be a strong and obedient follower of Christ. Also know, it is NOT your fault for him using. It is their sin and their responsibility. They are defiling themselves and the marriage bed by using it. As a Christian, I was so ashamed and embarrassed by the fact that I was caught up in pornography. I tried to hide it and this was the worst thing that I could have done. I didn’t feel like a good man or a good Christian. I hated the fact that I could not stop and I felt so disgusted with myself that I was using that junk. I have been going through a separation and now divorce for nearly 2 years now and I took over a year to figure out what was wrong with me. I had family, friends, pastors, a good Christian counselors, and an accountability partner by my side. Once this sin was in the open, the desire to use pornography slowly just disappeared.

    The biggest thing I learned was that as a man, I had no clue what intimacy was. As a man, I saw intimacy and sex as the same thing. This is false and a complete lie from Satan. Sex cannot meet the man’s need for intimacy. I can see how there are so many men that were never taught what true intimacy is, and I believe this is the responsibility of a father to teach their sons. My relationship with my father was a huge barrier my entire life until this occurred. I thought getting married and having sex with my wife would resolve all my issues, when in fact, it made it worse. When my expectations were not met, I turned to pornography instead of opening up to my wife. I didn’t know how to open up to her, I didn’t know how to be intimate with her, and I didn’t know how to be her best friend. I thought a man holds things in and deals with it himself, another lie from Satan. That is not a man. More importantly, I didn’t know how to have an intimate relationship with Christ. This is where it all starts.

    Before a man can be a good husband and strong man, he has to learn how to be intimate with God. I read dozens of books and studied the bible to figure out what it takes to be a man of God, a Godly husband, and a Godly father. This changed my life forever. Only God can give me strength to be a man and overcome my failures. I am only strong in Him. A man that uses pornography or any addiction is weak and he needs to be broken. He needs to humble himself to God to get back on the path to righteousness.

    Women, take this advice. Help your husbands become the man he is called to be. In this situation, love has to be tough. Do not let him become a selfish and immature man that is out for his own desires. If he will not stop using for you, tell someone immediately no matter how upset he may become. Do not think of it as hurting him, believe me, you are helping him more than you will ever know. Tell a close friend of his to confront him, or tell a pastor to confront him. He needs help. Now that I am free from the bondage of pornography, I feel unbelievable. With pornography, I felt like I was a little boy trapped in a cage trying to become a man. Without pornography, I am free to give everything to God. I am free to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. I am free to love others and be the sacrificial man I am called to be. I want to love my wife and sacrifice everything for her more than anything, but I have lost her. I have three children that I can give freely too and love with everything I have. I have not lost them and praise God for that.

    I promise you, if your husband is truly a Christian who wants to be obedient, he will thank you down the road for speaking up and stopping the sin that is in his life. Remember, pornography is a purely selfish act to meet his own needs. He is not thinking of your needs, his families needs, or anybody else needs. A man is to sacrifice everything for his wife and family. Pornography is the complete opposite. Pornography destroys a man’s heart and mind. He ends up living in a fantasy world. Wives, save your husbands before they are in to deep and they end up in a world they cannot get out of. Thank God, I never got to that point.

    • Wow. Thank you so much for this comment! I think it will be a blessing to many, and you have much more authority to say it than I do. I’m sorry about your separation. I pray that God will bring real reconciliation for you in some way.

      • Agreeing husband says:

        I pray my story can help others as they heal their marriages. My life has been saved through this experience. I am heart broken about my marriage and family, but my relationship with Christ has been restored and reconciled.

  16. Sheila, this is a great post and I think it’s great that you encourage women to do everything they can to repair their marriage and only consider divorce as a last resort.

    There were a couple things I’m not sure I agree with though. The first one is putting filters on the computer. If your husband agrees to this because he wants to change, great! But if he refuses, I don’t think the wife can do it anyway without his permission. Not only will this anger the husband and drive them further apart, it seems like this would be unsubmissive behavior on the wife’s part. Yes, a wife can disobey her husband if he wants her to sin, but NOT putting filters on your computer is not a sin. So I don’t see how a wife can disobey her husband’s wishes that way without being unsubmissive.

    Secondly is the issue of refusing to have sex with your husband after he’s looked at porn. Again, I don’t see any biblical grounds for this. The bible says to not deprive one another except by mutual agreement for the purpose of prayer and fasting. It doesn’t say a wife can refuse because she’s hurt or mad at her husband, even if he’s breaking his marriage vows by committing adultery in his heart. If she’s going to stop having sex with him, I think it should only be when she separates completely from him. If she’s still with him honoring her marriage vows, she needs to honor ALL her marriage vows, until she starts the process of ending the marriage contract. I can’t even imagine how hurtful this would be for a wife, but I still can’t see that the bible allows her to refuse him. She may feel humiliated and hurt, but we have to remember that Jesus laid down His rights, dignity and honor to come to earth to be humiliated and killed for worthless people like us, and we are called to emulate Him.

    • Mrs. P: I would agree that you can’t put filters on the computer without his permission, which is why I said that if he refuses, you should seek outside counsel. If he refuses, he’s basically saying that he’s not willing to stop using porn, and at this point I think a woman really needs an outside mentor to help. So I wasn’t saying she should do it behind his back; just that it should be done. If he says no, she can’t do it, obviously. But that is a HUGE red flag.

      I also firmly believe that we should never lead anyone into sin. That doesn’t mean that we are responsible if they do sin; but we should not play a part in it. In the same way that we should obey our parents, but not obey them if they want us to sin, I don’t think that we should follow our husband into sin. If he’s watching porn and then wanting you to act things out, you are entering into a lustful fantasy with him, because he’s concentrating on the porn, not on you. It’s a porn-induced sex session; it has little to do with making love. That’s what I was talking about. I’m not saying that women should withhold if he’s ever using porn; I’m saying that if he uses porn, and then comes immediately into the room after being aroused by the porn and wants to do something, you’re totally fine to say no. That’s participating in sin, even if you don’t watch the porn with him, because the sexual session is an extension of the porn. To tell women that they don’t have the right to refuse in that situation is to tell women to degrade themselves. Their husbands will be treating them as sex objects, and the women are going to feel demeaned and disgusted. That’s not right. It can rip apart the woman’s soul and her own sexuality, as well as his.

      If he is using porn occasionally, and wants to stop but sometimes fails, and when they do make love he’s there, that’s one thing. If he’s using the porn to get aroused so that he “can do the deed”, and is concentrating on the porn while he’s with her, that’s something else entirely. Do you see?

      I know the Bible doesn’t talk directly about this, but let’s face it: the Bible doesn’t talk directly about a lot of things that we as Christians are fairly sure about it. It says very little about abortion, for instance. Technology has come so far that there are some things we need to look at principles about, and ask for guidance about, and not assume that the Bible speaks to them. And this is one of those areas. I would say that if your husband watches porn, gets excited, and then comes in the room and wants to have sex, that is not healthy and it is not right. If you have sex with him, you are enabling sin, in the same way as if you bought the alcohol and put it in the cupboard for him. And that’s my problem with it. I hope that’s clear. I don’t mean to be harsh; I just really feel for the women, like Lisa who wrote earlier, who are feeling disgusted and demeaned. They need our understanding, and they need a plan for how to deal with it so that their sex life can be redeemed. Feeding his pornographic fantasies does not redeem his sex life; it just gets you down in the muck with him.

    • Mrs. P: I’ve just realized that perhaps I sounded snarky. I came home and there were a ton of comments, and I’ve tried to reply to each of them, and I don’t believe I did it very well. I’m sorry. I appreciate your comment, and your point of view. I think what you’ve said about not withholding is probably the majority view in Christian circles, and so I’m the one who differs here. So I appreciate you chiming in and giving voice to that, and letting us explore the issue further!

      • Oh I didn’t think you were being snarky at all. :) I guess when it all boils down, I felt like you were saying wives should refuse to have sex with their husbands after he’s looked at porn because it’s degrading to them. While I feel for wives who are treated so horribly, I think we need to make sure we don’t justify not doing something because it’s degrading. Jesus went through more humiliation than any of us can ever imagine, yet He didn’t try to stop Himself from being beaten, mocked, etc. And the bible tells us that if our Lord suffered that way, why should we expect to not suffer like that? He willingly laid down His rights and dignity even though He had every right and reason not to. It just rubs me the wrong way when Christians justify something by saying it’s humiliating or that we have rights, because Jesus gave up His rights for us. I’m not saying we should all just let ourselves be walked over and humiliated in every situation, but there are situations where we best emulate Christ by laying down our rights. So I agree with you when you said that it’s right for a woman to refuse sex if she would be aiding her husband in sin, but then other times it seems like you’re saying they should refuse because it’s degrading. I don’t want to minimize the humiliation wives feel in those situations, I just want us to realize God is glorified when you serve Him and others even if it means laying down your own rights.

        • Mrs. P, I think anytime you have sex with your husband after he’s been using porn you cement a sin, and thus you’re enabling sin. But I’m not sure I agree that because Jesus was willing to be humiliated we should thus allow ourselves to always be humiliated. When we let others treat us in an unChristlike way, we move them away from Christ, not towards Him. Often in family relationships we women can take on the martyr role, and this doesn’t help our family members represent Christ.

          Jesus was not a lamb who lay down in every situation. Yes, He lay down His life for a specific purpose, but He also overturned the tables of the moneychangers. He also told off the Pharisees. He told off His disciples. When the Pharisees called Him names, He defended Himself.

          To tell a woman that in a marriage she should be willingly to be sexually humiliated does not strike me as something God would ever say. Think about a parent’s heart. Would you say to your daughter, if she were married, that she should allow her husband to degrade her, because this is godly? I certainly wouldn’t. Let’s say that a man wants a woman to do something sexually that she feels is unbiblical. She is certainly in her rights to refuse. A woman is not a sex slave, and degregation is not part of a Christian marriage. If women allow themselves to be treated this way, it is very likely that their fragile sexuality will be extremely harmed. Here’s a comment on this subject that the husband sent to me today, which I want to share:

          “I do not believe a wife is responsible to have sex when her husband has just looked at pornography and he come to her to fullfill HIS needs. That is not the design that God has for sex. Pornography is selfish and about the individual. Sex in marriage is about an unselfish and sacrificial act with one’s spouse. Once a man has
          indulged himself in pornography it is impossible for him to create sex as an unselfish act to meet the needs of his wife. I understand why a wife would feel used by her husband in this situation, because in essence he is using her. I know my wife felt this way…I feel that marriage bed is a place to have sexual freedom to experience each other freely. If a wife feels that her husband is doing things that she feels degraded by, then she should refuse. He should not be able to use her that way. God created sex to be a very intimate and loving act between a husband and wife. If a man is defiling that by his use of pornography, then he will be held accountable. A man has to turn away from pornography and his own desires. He has to ask God to guide him into learning what true intimacy and sex is about. He needs to change his heart before he can change his mind. He needs to find intimacy with God before he can find intimacy with his wife. It is like an alcoholic. The man needs to throw it all aside and clean out his system. This takes time a perseverance. The man needs to study the bible, read good Christian books, and pray for guidance to find the true meaning of intimacy, love, and sex. It is like any other sin. You have to turn from it, repent, and find God again. Being obedient to God is the key to truth.”

          In my opinion, you cannot separate “don’t make love if you feel that it is degrading” from “don’t make love if you feel like you are enabling sin.” They are one and the same thing. And that’s why I say them interchangeably. If it wasn’t degrading or humiliating, it wouldn’t be sin. And if it weren’t sin, it wouldn’t be degrading or humiliating. God does not ask us to be degraded and humiliated in bed. He really doesn’t. He asks us to give our bodies sacrificially so that we join together intimately, but every act of joining our bodies does not fulfill that. And so I just think we need to be careful how we counsel women, because some are hurting so badly and need help and strategies as to how to deal with this. Shedding light on the matter, I think, is the best way.

          • You said: “But I’m not sure I agree that because Jesus was willing to be humiliated we should thus allow ourselves to always be humiliated.”

            I said: “I’m not saying we should all just let ourselves be walked over and humiliated in every situation,”

            I didn’t say that we should allow ourselves to always be humiliated. Just want to make that clear. I was in a hurry when I wrote my last comment so maybe it sounded scatter-brained.

            I think I was in disagreement with you because at times it sounded like you were saying the reason for refusing sex was to not enable sin but other times it sounded like the reason was because it’s demeaning. Thank you for explaining how you feel they are one in the same. Now I understand much better what you were saying.

          • Cool! Thanks for keeping track of the comment thread, by the way. So often I reply to someone and then I never hear back. I think you’re right, though. I don’t think I was clear at the beginning, so I’m glad we got a chance to clarify it all. Gotta go make dinner!

  17. Judy Burgi says:

    Boy this is a tough issue but one that needs to be addressed. I’m thankful that as Christians, neither my husband nor myself is interested in porn. However, having said that I was shocked to find out that many Christians do watch porn. That just totally shocked me. I guess I’m a little naive. Satan will do his best to break up Christian marriages. He already has the unbeliever on his side so he goes after the Christians.

    I agree that porn shouldn’t be grounds for divorce unless all avenues have been sought out and the husband or wife willingly will not stop. It is a sad day when marriages break up over porn. My heart and prayers go out to those who are suffering with this issue in their marriage.

    • as you have stated, you obviously have not had this issue enter your marriage or you’d know there are way more dynamics and its way more painful than u know.

  18. I just wanted to respond to those who may think a wife has the responsibility to be free for sex with her husband no matter what. I don’t personally agree with that. I have had to deal with this issue for a great number of years. I do believe that a husband and wife should not withhold themselves from one another. However, when a spouse is involved in a sexual sin and isn’t willing to get help to work on it I do believe the sexual part of the marriage will suffer. I used to feel so used by my husband because I knew what he was into and refused help. I felt more like a sexual object than a wife being loved by her husband. For a time I became really angry and bitter at him. Through Christ I have worked through a lot and am set free from that bitterness. However, I try to offer myself to him when my heart is right. Then it’s not a object issue and I’m not letting him use me. I am saying I love you and I want to be here for you. I really don’t believe that God intends for me or any woman is just to lay down for men who are addicted to porn and want it when they want it. God knows each woman’s heart and he created us with needs and feelings. I have learned and am still learning to let God meet my needs. Thank you so much for allowing me to share this with you all. Maybe God will use this to speak to someones heart.

    • Karen, thank you for your comment. I think that’s what I was trying to say, but you said it better. I do think that having sex when you feel humiliated has the potential to really wound a woman’s heart, and that is not God’s intention. It can make the sex life even worse. This is an area where we have to tread very carefully.

      I’m sorry that you’re going through such a hard time. I really pray that God will bring healing to both of you.

  19. Great post! I agree with everything that you wrote! I remember clearly the terrible pain that pornography caused in our marriage, but I am eternally grateful to Christ for His healing and restoration. We did a presentation at our church about purity in marriage and I quoted from our speech on my blog http://www.parentsforpurity.blogspot.com. Thanks for your truthful and bold words!!

  20. Thankfully I have not had to deal with the pornography in my marriage- but I have thought about the romance novel issue. I have had to toss some books- even by Christian authors- when I started reading some scenes that had inappropriate and unnecessary details. I don’t need to be thinking about other men- even fictional- or what their bodies look like, as described in the pages of a novel. I think we women need to guard our minds just as much as those that look at porn.

    Thanks for your post Sheila.

  21. All things being equal, I wouldn’t disagree with you: To use porn is to sin. But isn’t the wife withholding from the husband just as much of a sin? I see so much written about men and the use of porn and precious little regarding a woman’s sexual responsibility to the marriage. If I’m not overstating your case, that is, “Men have an obligation to not use porn”, then the converse must be equally true–woman have an obligation to engage sexually for the health of the marriage.

    Rebuild slowly? How about “start building”?

    Just a thought.

    • Scott, I would agree with you, and I’ve written at length in different posts about how important it is to make love to your husband. I’m just saying that if the man has had a porn addiction, rebuilding one’s sex life is going to be tough, and won’t happen instantaneously. But it is so much better if there is a good sex life to begin with!

  22. Can I share about porn from a male perspective?

    The real allure is that it’s easy. Masturbation never feels as good or satisfying as having sex with my wife. It’s substituting a big mac for a fillet mignon. But porn is a fantasy world where women are always available, always hot and always ready for sex. It doesn’t take any work; it doesn’t require me to be a real man. I get to feel like a man (kinda-sorta) without having to understand a woman, meet her needs and make her happy. In the end, though, it’s just as empty a gesture as buying a giant truck to try and feel manly.

    I’m still tempted to look at porn, and sometimes I click on that link and see some things that I shouldn’t see. But my wife and I have talked about it, I ask forgiveness and use it as a reminder that I need to do the work of loving her. Sure, I could roll through the drive-through and grab a greasy burger, but when I take the time to prepare a beautiful meal, I’m always more satisfied.
    James Wood recently posted…Get off the Phone when You’re on a DateMy Profile

    • James, I want to thank you for admitting that you sometimes still click. I think that’s important for women to hear. You don’t want to; you know it’s wrong; but sometimes you still slip up. But that doesn’t mean that you’ve fallen, or that you’re not trying. I think we all mess up (what dieter doesn’t know that?), and marriage really does need grace. If your husband acknowledges it’s wrong and is trying to stop, let’s give him the grace to believe him, and not to pound him if he slips up!

  23. I gotta go w/a vote against the interactive thing. Scenes of Glenn Close and rabbit stew go through my head. If it just involves non-interactive forms of media, I’d say it should be a known part of the marriage. This sort of thing needs to be “out there”, otherwise questions linger in the relationship if “discovered”.
    Yvette recently posted…WoW Gold Guide ReviewMy Profile

  24. Fantastic article, Sheila! :) I enjoy your articles because you often raise points I’ve never considered and I love being inspired like that. I thought you made a great point about how while Jesus said lust was the same as committing adultery in our hearts, He also said that hating our brother is the same as murdering him: but we don’t lock people up for figurative/spiritual murder, only literal, physical murder. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. That being said, no doubt there are many women who feel the sting of their husbands’ betrayal just as keenly as they would a literal affair. :/

    i completely agree that erotica for women is on the same grounds as visual porn for men. It is sexually arousing, plain and simple, and leaves nothing to the imagination. The sex scenes in erotica are just as explicit as any porn site. But there does remain one difference which is qute significant. Porn sites and films are of real women with souls. Erotica is fictional characters. One might argue that porn stars are actresses and therefore “fictional” as well, but the truth is, a large majority of porn stars are sex slaves; women who are addicted to drugs and alcohol because it’s the only way they can cope with the daily trauma they must undergo on set. They may start out in the industry willingly initially but it very quickly becomes a situation of on-going rape. This means that users of porn are actually accomplices to the abuse of these women. It’s something most articles of porn never address. The testimonies of ex-porn stars are horrifying. I’ve written an article about it called, PORN: Rape by Proxy. http://www.bekahferguson.com/content/view/65/33/

    • Sheila says:

      Bekah, EXCELLENT point! You can never argue that porn is okay, because it does have victims. Erotica, on the other hand, does not. It may be just as damaging to our souls, but it does not damage another human being. But we should remember that with porn, people really are being used, and we’re contributing to it if we use porn.

  25. Hello. I have been married for almost 12 years. My husband and I have 2 wonderful kids together. I love my life and I love my husband. Let me start off by saying that my husband is almost perfect. He spends all of his free time with his family. After 12 years he still calls me for his lunch break. He gives me all the attention I need, tells me I am beautiful and sexy every day, plays with my hair, kisses my nose, and does everything a wonderful husband should do. You see, we got married at the age of 15 and have worked together to be best friends and a happy loving couple. I am so in love with him and I know his feelings are the same, However, I am dying inside. I have dealt with him looking at pornography for the entire 12 years. When he joined the military, it worsened. He used to look at pornography a lot and then he quit for a while. He had an affair and when we worked through that everything became a fairy tale. No pornography, that I knew of. Then about a year ago I found the porn. I cried. He cried. We made up. Well, I just found it again last night. I am hurt so bad. I cannot go 5 minutes without crying. I feel destroyed. I know he does not do it intentionally but he cannot resist the urge. Even though he is an amazing man I feel no love towards him we he looks at it. What do I do? I need help. I can no longer see fashion magazines when his is around without panicking. If a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on my heart starts to flutter. If I go to the beach with him, I feel uncomfortable. He thinks everything has been perfect. However, he does not know that the memories are still killing me slowly. Life has not been perfect. I am scared to leave the house when he is home. I AM SCARED. I AM HURT. Please help. What can I do to either be ok with pornography or to bring me back to civilized living?

    • Jen,

      I am so sorry for how you are hurting. Just please, know that you are not alone. So many women are going through the same thing, and wondering if they are going crazy because this is tainting everything they think about. I think the panic attacks (that you mentioned in another comment) and other things are really perfectly natural.

      Looking at porn is sin. It is giving in to Satan. And that is going to have effects on everyone around you. You are now dealing with those effects. You are not going crazy; it’s just a natural reaction. You asked what you can do to either be okay with porn or get back to civilized living. I don’t think you can be okay with porn.

      That being said, you do have to deal with it! So here are just a few thoughts. First, it really sounds like you need someone to support you in real life. Is there anyone at the church that you can talk to (without your husband’s struggles being gossipped about?) I think you need someone you can unload on and someone who can pray with you. That’s so important.

      Also, I wonder about bringing in an accountability partner for him. You say that he isn’t doing this intentionally, and that he doesn’t want to do it. That’s actually quite common. I think most men would say that: they don’t want to watch porn, but they’re drawn to it. So if he’s being honest, and he wants to quit, let’s give him some resources to help him quit. Send him to xxxchurch.com. Talk about getting filters on your computer, like Covenant Eyes. And perhaps you should tell a pastor at church who can stand alongside him and support him. I wouldn’t do this behind his back, but talk to him about getting help for you and for your marriage.

      I know it feels like this is killing you, but remember that God is bigger than this and He can help you through this. And God sees you as beautiful, and untainted. I hope that helps, and I will pray for you.

      • Thank you for the prayers. I really need them. I will look into your advice. I just gave our marriage faith for so long and now I see that he cannot quit on his own. I am fortunate to come across this site; it is a blessing. Thank you.

  26. My husband came home from his 4th tour changed. He was easily angered, overly picky and insulting and not interested in sex, which we both had enjoyed prior to his deployment. I found porn sites on his computer history and he blamed them on another soldier that borrowed his laptop. The same thing a few weeks later after a drill weekend. His attitude and lack of interest in me has had me thinking affair for the past 8 months since he has been home. Last night I used his phone to look up something on Utube and found porn in his history….he claimed he left his phone in the office at work and did not know who used it…problem was it was a brand new phone on Saturday, and he hadn’t been to work yet since he got it. Oh, he didn’t know how it could have gotten there….I asked him what he would honestly think if the situation were reversed and he went to bed mad (something that has only happened twice in 22 years). Tonight he admitted it was his porn, but didn’t think it was that important. I know you say don’t take it personal, and as a pastor I have said the same thing to other women…but it is easier said than done.

    • I’m do sorry, Dr. J! Does your husband at least acknowledge that it’s wrong and want to change? Until he does, it’s hard to move forward. And by don’t take it personally, I’d say that once he does decide to change. Until he does that, it’s also very hard NOT to take it personally! So I hope you read the follow-up post to this one on what to do now. It’s right here, and it may help you.

  27. My husband looks at porn on his phone and everytime I catch him he lies. There comes a time when enough is enough. When you feel not good enough for so long it is not a battle worth fighting anymore. If your spouse can not tell the truth after being caught the trust is no longer there.

    • Wow Dawn. I just caught my husband doing the same thing! we just got back from a wonderful holiday and he headed out to the garage and i caught him and he made me feel like I was the bad one!! he said i am acting like I am holding some big thing over him! i said it is about respect and he didn’t know how to respond. I believe I have come to the point where although it is a battle worth fighting, I am not winning and he is not changing so when the battle is over for me, so is our marriage. I hope things improve for yours. I am giving up on mine.

    • ‘ If your spouse can not tell the truth after being caught the trust is no longer there.’

      I think as soon as a husband betrays you the trust is no longer there and looking at other women for sexual arousal is betrayal. My husband hasn’t denied it but he has said that he thinks it is normal! My problem is the fact that we are unevenly yoked. What a huge mistake I made to marry someone who isn’t a Christian. I can’t stop crying.

      ‘I am giving up on mine.’

      I know exactly how you feel.

      • Sorry should have added this.

        I have read in another comment that ‘God wants you in this marriage; Satan does not.’ Does anyone think that this is the case where my marriage is concerned? I really do question why God would want me to remain married to an unbeliever, my husband is not convinced about God and Christ. This is something I pray about every day for the past 3 months since I found out.

  28. I have been married to my husband 4.5 years. I found out about his porn addiction a couple months into our marriage. First, He said what i found in his email was old stuff from before he met, he admitted that he had a problem but he had worked on it and hadn’t felt the need to for a long time. I believed him, told him I would trust him but that he needed to get rid of these email accounts, to close them down and we need to share an email account so nothing can be hid. A few months went on, I had to go out of town for a funeral and when I returned I found porn on the history that he had forgotten to delete. I was so mad, so hurt. But i realized that it wasn’t just any porn, it was smoking porn. Everything he watched and viewed, the women were smoking, some of it wasn’t even nude. He shared with me that when he was little he remembers seeing porn and it was women smoking and ever since then his mind has been obsessed with this and that the only thing he finds attractive is smoking. I had no idea about this type of stuff and was really just confused. I told him we needed to seek counseling, he agreed. Well, 4 years later, still no counseling and everything is SO much worse. During these past few years his addiction has gotten so out of control that its turned into harassment. I don’t know if anyone can help me who has experienced this, but with my husbands addiction, he could care less if its nudity. Porn for him is watching a girl smoke. And because its something specific like this, it has become ‘my fault’. That if i would smoke for him, he wouldn’t have to cheat by looking at porn. I am NOT smoking. I am not going to sin and be held accountable before God for sinning when its my husbands issue, not mine. I’m also not going to risk my life either. The problem is, and he’s even shared this with me, is that he can never get away from it. He sees women smoking at work, he sees them when hes driving, when he out at places, he sees them in movies and on tv. His mind is CONSTANTLY being shown this ‘porn’ and he cant make it stop. He’s tried not viewing it online but it does nothing because he sees it through out the day every day. And its gotten so bad that he cant even touch me. He harasses me, HARASSES me, to do this. That I’m a horrible wife for not meeting his sexual needs. He has withheld himself from me to try to get me to do it. He will send texts to me throughout the day and say stuff to my face. I can;t escape it. I am always feeling worthless and inadequate. That I should be to blame because women are supposed to meet their husbands sexual needs so they aren’t tempted to look elsewhere. Which is true when speaking of sex. But what about this specific thing? Am I wrong to say no? Am I wrong to to not fill my husbands needs if it means I have to sin? Or should I just give in and do it if it means keeping my husband satisfied and faithful? I always wonder if I should just do it, be an obedient wife, and if its a sin I;m committing then maybe he will be held accountable to God, not me. The one thing that really gives me strength to say no is that I breastfeed. My husband may be destroying our marriage and our lives, if I give in I may be giving myself a death sentence of cancer or heart attack, but how I can I do something that will poison my milk and hurt my child because of his selfish desire. Please someone help me. Almost 5 years of not only dealing with his porn addiction but being mentally and verbally abused on a weekly sometimes daily basis is too much to bear anymore. I love him with all my heart but I struggle getting out of bed anymore, I struggle homeschooling my oldest daughter and being a mother anymore. It hurts to just be alive. How do I help my husband with such a complicated unusual struggle???

    • Cara, it sounds as if your husband truly needs to talk to someone and truly needs someone to hold him accountable. You are NOT responsible for doing something he finds attractive if that something would violate your conscience or harm you in any way. If he is telling you this is your fault, that is manipulation.

      I’d read this post about being an enabler in your marriage, which may help you figure out what steps to take next. But no, you do not have to do this, but making him sit down and talk to someone and confess and pray about it is likely a very good idea.

  29. Happilymarr132 says:

    Very well said :)

    • Happilymarr132 says:

      Oh, very strange. The person whos comment this was a reply to has vanished! Where has MeMe’s comment gone? It was emailed to me and replied to it, but it isn’t here! Are some comments being ommitted? If so, isn’t that quite biased? Surely people want to see a both sides of a balanced arguement.

      • As the blog owner, I feel that I have the right to delete comments that I don’t think are edifying. That particular comment I could have written an argument against, but I feared that it put Christianity in a very bad light. If a woman came here whose husband had cheated on her read that comment, even if I rebutted it, she could easily get this sense that “Wow, some Christians really hate women”, and I do not think that’s a good witness to the gospel at all. I don’t mind debate, but I won’t put something up that is argued BY A CHRISTIAN that would then put Christianity in a bad light. If a non-Christian wants to argue it, that’s fine, but I won’t let my blog become a place that could lead people away from God. So I don’t want to be a forum for arguments that I think are spurious and could do exactly that.

        • Happilymarr132 says:

          (Editor’s note: The content of this comment has been deleted several times, and I wanted to explain why. I am FIRMLY against pornography. I understand that some people feels that it helps their sex life; I can even see that it could–for a short time. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is wrong, even if both people want to use porn. There are many websites people can go to on the web that talk about how porn helps; I want this to be a website that does not give that message in any way, shape, or form.

          Sex is to be kept between two married people. Even if you are married and you are watching porn, you are watching two people doing something wrong. That, in and of itself, is wrong.

          And I don’t want anyone to come to this website, and read a comment that says that porn can be good, and then go back and use porn. It’s like Jesus said in Luke 17:2:

          It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

          I won’t be the cause of someone stumbling, and so I must remove comments like these ones.

          Pornography is a huge poison that is ruining so many marriages. This website is fighting back against that, and always will, and so comments that portray porn in a positive light will always be removed. There are many other forums on the internet for those ideas; I will not be one of them; not when porn does so much harm.

          It’s like asking me to say: sure, racism is usually bad, but in some cases it can be good! Or, sure it’s wrong to steal, but in some cases it’s okay. I can’t do that. It’s simply wrong, and it will always remain that way.

          I totally understand that not everyone shares my views on this, even if they agree with me on other things, and that is completely your prerogative. No one has to agree with me to come here at all! But I do own this website, and I do just have certain lines that I won’t cross in the comments.

          Thank you for being gracious in your original comment, and I do hope you understand.)

          • Happilymarr132 says:

            I do understand. Thank you for your time and for your explaination. It’s very honest and I respect that. It is not a bad thing that we have different views, it’s what makes life so varied. I wish you well with your website, and I will continue to read the articles and to contribute. H132 xx

  30. What if your husband is the preacher and the porn addict..who do I turn to? Married 10 years and he has never stopped. I find something and he swears he will stop. Do I have a moral obligation to report him to someone higher in the church? I am very torn with no one to talk to…

    • john doe says:

      ane, i don’t think your husband should be a preacher if he can’t control this. maybe he sound find a new career.

  31. john doe says:

    i have a porn addiction. i don’t know how to get rid of it. it doesn’t affect my relationship but i know that God doesn’t want me to be looking at it. I’ve watched porn since I was 10 years old, almost everyday. it has become a routine that i just do. i wish i could stop.

  32. I have been married 45 years. 3 Years ago my husband lost both parents and his job became more stressful. He started looking at adult websites and will often tell women that post nude pictures how awesome and outstanding they are. Me, no compliments in many years. I asked why and was told there was nothing about me worthy of a compliment. He even started trading nude pictures and sexting one of them. She tried to get him to come to another state to “have fun”. I found out and was very upset. He pretty much talked to her for a year and has since gone underground with it. He was upset that I followed him on the computer. He told me our relationship was just sex and not making love. He will look at these women and talk to them before he comes to bed expecting to have sex. I have never refused him, but since there is no foreplay from him to me, it is only from me to him and him getting pleasure. He will occasionally try to get me to orgasm my using his hand, but it seems to me it is not about fun but getting to the end of the road. If we were not retired with little assets and I was a stay at home mom with no retirement of my own, I might leave, but that is not an option. I can not say anything to a friend because his friends are into porn also. He has isolated me from all friends and family, all my friends are his and his family. All my activities are his, all my interests are his, all I am is him. We can not talk because his work, his friends, his sex life are none of my business.

    • Jenny, I’m so, so sorry that you are going through this. You must be so worn down! It sounds like you really could use some help. Have you ever gone to church? Honestly, churches deal with this kind of thing so much today, and it can be a great way to meet a new group of people who could support you in this. You sound like you could really use someone new to walk alongside you and help you and pray for you.

      Look around where you live and try to find an active church where they have children’s programs (because those churches usually cater more to helping families, and they tend to be more dynamic, not because you need children’s programs).

      I know you feel alone, but God does see you, and He does know what you’re going through, and He does not want you betrayed this way. I believe that if you reach out to Him, He will help you and make Himself real to you. I’m going to say a prayer right now for you that your husband will find love for you again, and that you can find a group to support you.

  33. hello i just found out my husband has been dealing with this issue for many years.. it comes and goes we both go to church. When i found out i dealt with it pretty calmly, i know it was God helping me but it hurts kind of, i know its not my fault but its something hes been dealing with since he was a child. I really just feel lonely, let down. Besides the fact that ive been feeling super insecure about my body i find this out! i have forgiven him and let him know he needs help and im with him the good times and the bad, but how can i help me?

  34. I just read this article. and I understand that you don’t feel divorce is the answer. But what if he is a repeat offender? I have been with my husband for 10 years and this is the 3rd time I have caught him. Each time he gets more and more sneaky in covering his tracks. He has promised in the past that it will stop. and it does for a while. Then I get a sneaking suspicion and I do some digging, of course, I find it. It disgusts me! It makes me feel filthy. I have to fight with him just to get him to touch me let alone make love to me. I am 35 years old and sometimes go 6 months or more without any intimate contact with my husband. This time I also found other disturbing things that to me are just unforgivable. So confused. I love my husband dearly and have fought and fought to save our marriage. At this point I have completely lost faith and trust in my husband and our marriage.

    • Hi there,

      That is so, so rough. I actually wrote a post on how you can take real decisive action right here. I’d really recommend some kind of intervention session with him so that he sees how serious you are. And like I said–sometimes a separation is necessary to jolt him into realizing what he is doing. But I’d only do that after you get some really good counsel from a third party. I hope that post I liked to helps more!

  35. HappilyRemarried says:

    This post is very well balanced. I’d like to give my two cents as I’ve previously been married to a man who was addicted to porn. He wound up being emotionally and then sexually abusive as his habits worsened. He refused accountability and broke past the filters set up online for him. I gave up a lot of my dignity trying to satisfy him and woo him back and in this case it just lead to abuse. I knew he had a problem before I married him (big mistake) and he continued with it all 6 years we were together. He then continued after our separation to get into a relationship with another woman and eventually married her after our divorce. I must say… I would have rather him cheated on me with a woman like he eventually did rather than had a problem with porn. With porn he cheated on me with hundreds if not thousands of women and yes he only was aroused by certain things and sometimes only when he couldn’t see my face. There is real pain there. And it’s a dangerous habit that worsens. I’d also like to add that romance novels are equal to porn, in my opinion. 50 shades of gray, anyone? I’ve heard a lot about it an it’s nothing but trash for women. Romance novels are porn for women, they are a path to the same darn thing. -end-

  36. My fiancé just recently admitted to me that he is addicted to porn. He says he wants to stop because he knows it is hurting me. He has agreed to meet with our pastor to get help. He told me he has been addicted for a long time ( long before he knew me.) Should I go ahead with the wedding if he continues to seek help, or should I push back the wedding? I don’t want to punish him but at the same time I am sure that this is a not a great way to start a marriage. I want to make our relationship work though if at all possible. The wedding is in 5 months. Any advice is much appreciated.

  37. This appears to be an all female discussion. But what if your wife has no interest in sex? You gave your word at the alter and you have kept your word and not cheated. It’s been years since she has came to bed. How does this change your outlook on porn? Who has been cheated now?

  38. I just got my husband’s confession of masturbating to porn this morning. This was only after I looked in his phone, saw a deleted search history, but miraculously an escort service website was still listed. He said he just saw a picture; just once, and that it was an isolated event. He has hidden other things that tread on infidelity and even hid his smoking habit from me for over a year. We sought biblical counsel through our church for those incidents, but now just moved 1100 miles away. I feel so alone. I feel so ugly. I still haven’t lost the baby weight from 21 months ago and dont tan or even do myself up enough. I’m a full time student and part time worker and do 100% of the house work. When do I have the time to doll myself up to look like those girls? I knew something was going on. I asked him over the weekend if he though about other gorls anymore. He had paid for sex while stationed in Germany. This always made me feel inadequate sexually. He reassured every single one of my suspicions with words of how much he loved me. What am I supposed to believe now? I feel betrayed. I was so loyal through his 3 year child custody battle- even to the point where his ex tried to ruin my life and career. And this is the thanks I get?! I’m not a pull out of your pocket when you want something kind of woman. This is why I waited to get married until in my 30′s. Now, here I am. 1100 miles away from anyone I know. At a new church, so I dont even know where to begin to ask for support. And completely humiliated to talk to any friends or family. I’m actually a good looking girl who was sought after by my pick of guys. Why am I not good enough?! How could God let me get married, go through all this, and then let me find this out now?! Why not before the wedding, or our baby, or the 100 mile move? I keep thinking/wishing I’m just day dreaming and its just some horrible thought/ not reality. What if he really did order an escort? What now God?

    • Sheila says:

      I’m so, so sorry that your husband has betrayed you like this. And the timing makes it even worse. I’ve said a prayer that you will feel God’s arms around you and that you will experience God’s love today.

      I know you’re at a new church, but I would still go in an see the pastor and explain that you’re in crisis and you need help. You really can’t go through this alone. Maybe the pastor can talk to you both, or suggest a counselor or even a mentor couple who can talk you through this. But I would definitely make it clear to your husband that this is NOT acceptable and that you won’t be tolerating it and that he will have to choose. And I hope that he makes the right choice!

      Prayers that God gives you support!

      • Thank you so much for your prayers. He is very sorry today and promising to do “whatever it takes” to earn my trust back. I believe he’s embarrassed and ashamed.I just cant see beyond the pain right now to even think about trusting him again. I am taking my time; allowing God to work, before I make any decisions that will affect my children and I. He said he would talk to someone at our new church with me, and he put a block on the internet for inappropriate searches on our smartphones (usually reserved for peoples children) so that shows me he’s willing to make a step in the right direction. I have set my boundaries until I feel I can trust him, and time will tell if his words have substance. I’m still in a haze and moving from disbelief to anger to sadness over and over right now. But with God, I know there’s hope for me and my future whether that be alone or married. I was remembering this morning a previous women’s retreat I went on that was based on Psalm 139. This has helped me to have some reassurance that it really isn’t me. I do feel God’s love today and it made me feel so special to have you praying for me. Thank you, and thank you for having this webpage up for those of us who don’t know where else to turn.

        • Sheila says:

          That’s wonderful, Alana! I see a lot of really good things in your email: he’s willing to be vulnerable and talk to someone and be held accountable; and he willingly put blockers on his computer and his cell phone. Those really are steps in the right direction. He’s doing the right thing now, and he WANTS to do the right thing. Now the step is to start seeing porn as the enemy, and not your husband. Fight the battle with him, on the same side. I know it’s hard, and it certainly will take time to rebuild trust. But things are definitely moving in the right direction!

  39. So my wife caught me looking at soft porn images on our computer. I was pretty naive in thinking that it was harmless behavior, but I understood why it hurt her. Her response resulted in her cheating on me (gave oral sex to a stranger she met on facebook). I forgave her and took her back and decided we could work out our issues. Well I guess she wasn’t satisfied with my progress and cheated again twice. One was cyber cheating the other an actual physical affair. She became pregnant. She still reminds me about my internet behavior when I try to discuss the pain she caused. I will never, ever believe what I did justified her actions. Our actions aren’t even in the same ballpar, but she says they’re the same thing. I still love her, but don’t think I want to be married to her anymore. She fortunately miscarried the bastard child, but the thought that she excepted someone else’s seed inside her repulses me. We have four kids, and I am the provider. I only stay with her out of guilt that I will destroy my family if I divorce her. I still love her, but I am not in love with her.

  40. Reading through the comments, I’ve come to find that there are no wives who have dealt with this. Well, I am one. It started when I was extremely young, finding my dad’s porn magazines under the sink in the bathroom. Being about 7 years old, I was curious and began flipping through the magazines. Even at that age, those images began to invoke sexual feelings. It then got to the point where I needed more, and I began to masturbate, even though I had no idea what I was doing was wrong. I knew that it felt good. From watching scrambled porn movies on the channels we didn’t get, to watching soft core things on the channels we did get, it began to escalate. Then, we got a home computer…and it was in my room. That’s where everything began to fall apart. I would do it for hours; mind you, I was 10-13 years old at this point. I had began attending church and knew that this was wrong, but I was compelled. I couldn’t stop watching. It got worse and worse as the years went on. I confessed the sin at church camp, and even told my mom, but she thought it was done & it was over. I begged for the computer to be put elsewhere….the kitchen, the living room, somewhere….but it wasn’t. I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of 17 and still struggled with the mental & spiritual scars. I met my husband at Bible college, and through different circumstances during our engagement, through tears I admitted to him that I had done all these things. No one had ever known except my mom and she didn’t even know the degree. My husband was gracious, even admitting that he too wasn’t unfamiliar with this sin, but that he hadn’t been addicted. We both agreed to move on and he has loved me in spite of the sin. We’ve been married nearly 3 years and I go back & forth with doing it for a while, then not. I can go months without it. But lately I haven’t even been able to go a day. It’s when I’m alone. I get bored. And that’s what it comes down to. I get bored. Not with my husband, but in life. So I watch. And I masturbate. It is a horrible, evil, disgusting thing and I am so ashamed after I do it. But then, the next day, the next week or month, I’m back at it. I need help. I want help. But I don’t know how to tell my husband. I don’t know where to get help. I don’t know how I can stop. I can’t tell anyone. No one will understand. This is hindering my life with my husband, and my life in general. This is keeping us from God’s will and the ministry He wants us in. How can I be so selfish to think that this only effects me? How can I be so selfish to keep doing it and not have the will power to stop? I’m praying someone will answer this and help. Thank you all for reading.

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] Post Wifey Wednesday: Is Pornography the Same as Cheating? [...]

  2. [...] I asked the question, “Is Porn Use the Same as Cheating”? That was an interesting discussion, but one comment that really stood out with me was left by a guy [...]

  3. [...] week I wrote about whether or not pornography use was the equivalent of romance novels, which caused quite a stir in the comments. The main purpose of the post was on investigating [...]

  4. [...] Is Pornography the Same as Cheating asks author Sheila Wray Gregoire? Further Reading: The Good Girl's Guide to Great [...]

  5. [...] a prude for thinking this is wrong?” And porn wrecks marriages. It isn’t harmless. It causes us to fantasize, to dissociate, to not be able to get aroused by a person but only an image. It causes people to turn to porn instead of each other, and soon takes away desire for your spouse [...]

  6. [...] Porn rewires your brain so that what becomes arousing is a picture or an image, and not a real live human being. Porn will make you impotent in your marriage. It will make your wife feel like trash, and will make her feel angry and unwanted. And it is a form of cheating. [...]

  7. […] sins: I may have withheld sex, but that doesn’t give him an excuse to have an affair! Or to watch porn! And I would agree. These verses never say that when the person sinned THEY ARE NOT ACCOUNTABLE FOR […]

  8. […] looking at porn cheating? You know I’ve got a few opinions on this because this question inevitably leads to – Is it OK […]

  9. […] And I also find myself recommending the same books to different people, over and over. And so I thought today that I’d put together a resource post of two of the best books I know of if your spouse is having an affair, or flirting with having an affair, or if you are trying to recover from an affair. I’ll likely add to this later, so if you have other favourites, leave them in the comments! (And I would count heavy porn use as an affair, too, as I wrote in this post on “Is Watching Porn Cheating“?) […]

  10. […] this sort of erotica (and I have to admit that I do understand the temptation) would not want their husbands watching porn. We think this is somehow different, because we’re just “reading stories”, […]

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